One of the many benefits of practicing yoga is you start to become more mindful and focused on the present moment.
Mindfulness allows you to take notice to how your body is feeling, your thoughts, and your behavior. Like yoga, it’s a way to connect your body, mind, and spirit.
When you begin to eat mindfully, you are able to slow down and notice how food affects your body. You realize what gives you energy and what does not. You start to notice how food taste and smells. You might even realize that certain foods you’ve always eaten doesn’t taste good anymore.
Below, I discuss how yoga and mindful eating are similar.
In yoga, we practice connecting our breath with our practice. When we focus on our breath, we are able to bring awareness to our body and connect with how we’re feeling at that moment. The same can be done while eating.
Try taking a deep breath before eating your first bite. Notice how you feel. Are you famished? Are you thirsty? What smells do you notice? How does smelling your food affect your body?
Take a deep breath several times while eating your meal and check in with how you’re feeling. Do you feel any different? In the middle of your meal, you might be hungry, but not famished anymore. Or, you starting to feel full and satisfied. How does your food taste?
Do this again at the end of the meal. Take a mental note of what you noticed during your meal. Did you notice any changes in your body? Did you notice anything different in the smells and taste of your foods?
At the beginning of our yoga practice, we set an intention for that practice and for our day. The intention can be a word such as “peace,” or a phrase such as “I am strong,” or gratitude such as “thanks.”
Try doing the same before eating your meal. Many people say a prayer or gratitude for their meal. You can also set an intention that will guide you through the meal such as “I will enjoy the taste and smells of each bite.” It can also be a check in intention such as “Am I full?”
In yoga, we let go of expectations and judgement. Instead we honor the present and our limitations while still pushing ourselves to find our edge. There is no right or wrong way to practice yoga. It is what it is, yoga. It’s a way to connect our mind, body, and spirit.
While eating, do the same. Let go of any expectation or judgement. There is no morality in eating. Food is neither good or bad. It is what it is, food. It is a way to fuel our bodies with nourishment and joy.
Usually around the middle of our yoga practice, when the fire in our bodies are burning, we take a moment to check-in and connect with breath and how our bodies feels. This can be done in downward facing dog or child’s pose. It’s similar to the beginning of our practice when we focused on our breathing.
The same is done with mindful eating. During your meal, pause and check-in with how your body is feeling? Are you still hungry? Does your food taste good?
There is nothing more satisfying in a yoga practice than when you reach savasana. This pose is typically done at the end of a yoga practice and is meant for total relaxation. It takes all of the work and fire you built up in your practice and provides you with satisfaction.
At the end of your meal instead of jumping up, sit and appreciate the feeling of satisfaction and nourishment your food provided. Eating is not only meant to fuel us, but also to give us joy.
To start, choose one meal to practice mindful eating. Once you get the hang of it, add another meal. Keep adding a meal until you feel confident in mindful eating.